Hungary takes a backwards step as government moves against LGBTQ community
In the latest move targeting the LGBTQ community, Hungary’s parliament has voted in favour of banning Trans people from changing their gender on identity documents.
“We have no words to describe what we feel…” said Tina Korlos Orban, vice president of advocacy group Transvanilla Transgender Association – speaking to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “People who haven’t had suicidal thoughts for decades now are having them. People are in panic, people want to escape from Hungary to somewhere else where they can get their gender recognised.”
Advocates said they would challenge the law, which would also affect intersex people born neither clearly male nor female, in court in Hungary and at the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.
Is Hungary queer-friendly?
Despite the anti-LGBTQ position of the country’s government, Hungary is a country where attitudes to LGBTQ people have been steadily evolving over time.
As things currently stand, homosexuality is not prohibited, anti-discrimination protections are in place, and there is legal recognition of same-sex relationships. But all of that feels under threat as the right-wing government continues to stoke anti-gay sentiment for political purposes.
The history of LGBTQ equality in Hungary
As modern-day Hungary emerged in the aftermath of World War I, the country’s penal code listed sex between men as a criminal offence. Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1961.
Marriage equality in Hungary
Legal recognition of same-sex relationships became possible in 1996 when Hungary adopted the concept of Unregistered Cohabitation. This recognised the rights of any couple living together in an economic and sexual relationship, and was applied equally regardless of gender or sexuality.
This was strengthened in 2009 when legislation was implemented that created registered partnerships for same-sex couples.
However, a significant barrier to marriage equality was introduced in 2012 with the adoption of a new constitution for Hungary. The new constitution explicitly restricts marriage to opposite sex couples.
Barriers to adoption and family planning also remain.
Despite polling that indicates that people in Hungary are increasingly supportive of LGBTQ equality, the current government is socially conservative and actively pushing back against the queer community.
A recent example of this tension is Hungary’s decision to withdraw from the next Eurovision song contest. While no official explanation has been given, it’s widely accepted that the event is seen as being ‘too gay’ and that Eurovision is generally seen as being associated with LGBTQ culture.
The move against Trans people being able to change their gender on official documents is further evidence that the government sees persecution of the LGBTQ community as a useful distraction.